President Cyril Ramphosa has called on governments represented at the United Nations General Assembly to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
The President was speaking during a virtual high-level meeting to mark the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women convened by the United Nations General Assembly.
“This session should have, as part of its outcomes, a strong commitment to end all forms of violence against women and girls - be it domestic violence, femicide, sexual abuse, child marriage or female genital mutilation.
“We must prioritise the ratification of the International Labour Organisation’s Convention on Violence and Harassment in the world of work."
The meeting, held under the theme 'Accelerating the realisation of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls', forms part of the high-level week of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA75).
Noting the progress made in the empowerment of women, Ramaphosa said billions of women and girls around the world still face discrimination, vulnerability and marginalisation in the workplace, at home and in broader society.
“Gender-based violence continues unabated and is an indictment on our societies. Meeting the aspirations of the Beijing Platform for Action and Sustainable Development Goal 5 demands a more decisive response from us all.
“The empowerment of women is one of South Africa’s national priorities and central to our development strategies. We have a multi-sectoral National Strategic Plan to provide a coordinated national response to violence and abuse against women,” said the President.
Part of South Africa’s plan to root out GBV includes law reforms to protect survivors and the creation of opportunities to enable women to become financially independent.
As African Union Chairperson, Ramaphosa said as part of the African Women’s Decade of Financial and Economic Inclusion, African Union member States have agreed to put policies in place to increase women’s economic participation, access to finance and ownership of land.
“By unleashing the economic potential of women, we are unleashing the potential of our economies to grow and benefit all,” said the President.
South Africa has earmarked 40% of all public procurement for women-owned businesses and has called on other African countries to do the same.
“We must provide more financial services to women who run SMMEs through the provision of low-cost finance, credit lines and digital financial instruments.
“We must improve women’s representation in decision-making structures like national parliaments but also on company boards and in their management. Through the UN’s Generation Equality campaign, States are once again putting the empowerment of women firmly on the global agenda.
“The world’s women and girls deserve action, not just promises. Let us as Generation Equality have the courage to do things differently so we can make our Beijing +25 aspirations a reality.
“Empowering women and girls is fundamental to our vision of an Africa and a world that is united, peaceful, prosperous and equal,” said the President.